The Golden Age of Baseball Cards™

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Baseball Card Hall of Fame

Bob Feller 1952 #088

by William Szczepanek

1952 Topps Bob Feller #088Bob Feller was in the twilight of his career when his 1952 card was produced. He is one of those rare players who fall into the timeframe of the Golden Age of Baseball Cards (1952 -1974) who also pitched in the 1930s.  Feller began his career in 1936 at the age of 17. He was 5 - 3 with an ERA of 3.34. He had another good year in 1937 going 9 - 7 with an ERA of 3.39. He went 17-11 in 1938 but his ERA rose to 4.08.  He led the league in strikeouts with 250 and walks, 208. His 208 walks in a season is still a major league record. Four times he led the league in walks, his wildness helping to keep batters fearful.

His career blossomed in 1939 at the age of 20 when he went 24 - 9 with a league leading 246 strikeouts and league leading number of walks with 142.  With 24 complete games he became the pitcher everyone expected, a dominating force and the first pitcher to win 20 games or more before the age of 21. For many years he held the record of 18 strikeouts in a game and 348 in a season. "Rapid Robert" was known for his speed throughout his career. Many still consider him to be the fastest pitcher who ever pitched in the Majors. He was clocked in a game at 107.6 mph in 1946 at Griffith Stadium, which is the second fasted recorded, but many argue that he was faster when he was young.

Bob FellerFeller pitched three no-hit games and shares the major league record with 12 one-hitters with Nolan Ryan. He never pitched in the minor leagues. He shares a record with Kerry Wood, the only pitchers to have ever struck out as many batters as they were years old. Feller struck out 17 at age 17.  Wood struck out 20 at age 20.

In 1947 Feller had 10 strikeouts after four innings in Philadelphia. On a wet night he slipped off the mound and injured his back. His fastball was never the same after that. His decline continued into 1948. Feller never did win a World Series game going 0 - 2, even though he threw a 2-hitter in the first game of the 1948 World Series losing 1 - 0.

Like many of his time Feller lost 4 years of baseball to military duty in WWII. His 266 victories could easily be over 300 if he were able to play baseball rather than enlisting in the Navy. Many thought he could have won more than 350 games. He considers Tommy Henrich and Ted Williams as two of the toughest hitters he ever faced.

In his first year of eligibility in 1962 Feller was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

"The difference between relief pitching when I did it today is simple, there is too much of it. It's one of those cases where more is not necessarily better."

"Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is." ─ Bob Feller

You can check out Feller's statistics at Baseball Reference.com

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